Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deceit, by M

I have a confession to make: ever since the news broke of the Colorado movie massacre last week, I have been totally hooked on reading the news articles about it. Like, I think I might need an intervention. I seem to have an unhealthy intrigue about the entire situation.

There is very much that can be said about the tragedy, and especially much that has to do with theology. I doubt I’m the only one who has been increasingly thinking and pondering questions of good and evil over the past few days. That said, I consider myself grossly under-qualified to tackle any of these questions, especially in a forum other than the one inside my own head. So, while my thoughts are swirling with "why?s," "how could he?s" and "what if?s"… I will keep those to myself.

Another question has been brought to light recently, however, and it is this… "Why am I drawn to learn so much about this?" Seriously. Why am I like a moth to this tragedy’s lamp? What does that say about me and my heart?

Upon reflection, I’ve realized that this is not an isolated circumstance, either. I realize that my middle school fascination with the Holocaust falls into the same camp, as does my college-age obsession with reading Caringbridge sites, as does my desire to click on any and all facebook pages that say "Praying for… so and so" or "RIP so and so." It’s like I just need more information. I need to know what exactly happened and, if I can figure it out, why.

Is this all making me sound like a creepy person? Probably. But I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way and reads these things.

So I’m talking to my BF last night, and as he starts to stage the aforementioned intervention, I find myself trying to explain or defend my attraction to this information. I admit that while exposing myself to such details of evil and brokenness surely amps up my daily level of fear… these articles also weirdly allay my fear in the moment. I realize that I gain a feeling of control over my life and my health when I read and process all the details of these tragedies, health crises, and disasters. Something tells me that knowing the details of whatever-it-may-be will somehow help me avoid or prevent it from happening in my own life.

Yet, that is a GIANT lie, isn’t it? More, it is a compilation of lies – that we can control our fate, that we can know when or how we die, that we can remotely attempt to change God’s path for us. This thinking suggests that God can’t be trusted to either protect us from harm or bring us into His glorious kingdom in His perfect timing. Everything about this way of thinking is contrary to what God tells us about ourselves and about Him.

In fact, this lie is the lie. Let’s go back to the Garden for a minute and revisit the story of Adam and Eve. When Eve is tempted by Satan, he tells her of eating the fruit: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). In fact, that very fruit tree is now referred to as "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil." And we all know that Adam and Eve took the fruit and ate… causing the fall of man, banishing themselves from the Garden, and inviting evil and sin into the world as we know it.

It’s easy to think of Adam and Eve as being very dumb in that moment. Why forfeit their everlasting life, their eternal communion with God, their peace, joy, and comfort for the knowledge of evil? What a bad trade-off. Yet, that is exactly what I’m doing, isn’t it? With every article I read, I am taking the fruit and listening to the lie that says "learn more of this evil… this knowledge will keep you safe," "take and digest this knowledge, it is good… you need it to live," "use this knowledge to take control over your life and death" … in essence, stop trusting God and start trusting yourself – "be like God."

Yikes. Clearly the great deceiver is still at work. "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

In light of this revelation, I have made a commitment to myself: I will not be captivated by evil. I will not indulge the temptation that increased knowledge of evil will somehow protect or save me. For I already have a Savior and He has already rescued me from death and the power of sin. "But they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death" (Revelation 12:11).


Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Hate"... Is it Really? by M

Hey everyone!

I got started on a new post nearly two weeks ago (part 2 of what I learned in Rome… as promised) and I haven’t been able to actually finish it. The topic just isn’t speaking to me now like it did when I first got home from Italy. That said, I still totally plan to finish it… it’s just that these days my mind is occupied by other thoughts that are taking precedence. So, sorry if anyone got their hopes up about that. Haha

The burden of posting has fallen on me recently (hence the lack of posts haha) as W and T have been enjoying a summer free from work, full of vacations, fun times, and, oh yeah, moving across the country. They’re mostly unpacked now, so hopefully W will be back to updating again shortly.

Anyway, what’s on my mind this week may be a bit controversial, and I typically don’t get into that stuff on here (or in public or with people I don’t know). So, I ask for your grace up front because, really, I need to just process my thoughts more than anything. I’m not trying to come to conclusions.. just trying to figure it all out, you see!

These days my facebook news feed is a battleground. Does anyone else feel that way? Each and every day I scroll through facebook and see a dozen or more impassioned postings from both sides of the political spectrum. Moreover, something tells me that my facebook friends may be a bit more disparate than the average user. Generally speaking, all of my theatre major and Teach for America friends are WAY on the left and all of my Christian conservative friends are WAY on the right. And it boggles my mind how these groups of people can be equally educated (Bachelor’s, Master’s, JDs, and a few PhDs in progress) and equally passionate about ideas and values that are wildly different. It is exhausting to me.

However, what has been bothering me the most recently is this… the many, many voices I hear on facebook that equate Biblical values with hate. This makes me so sad. SO sad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of plenty of Christian people who are hateful and display a disgusting lack of grace to certain people groups in this country. Westboro Baptist comes to mind, but it is certainly not the only one. I am aware that sometimes Christian people are hateful… radicals of all faiths and creeds tend to be, don’t they? But what makes me sad is this growing idea that standing for Christianity means automatically assuming a posture of hate. That is simply not true for the great majority of us.

Right now there is a big firestorm in the media about ChickfilA and their "hateful, anti-gay stance and sentiments." Now, for those of you up North, this might be totally irrelevant… but here in Atlanta, the ChickfilA capital of the world – literally, this is a big deal. Moreover, it’s become an issue for me personally as several friends and my BF work for their corporate headquarters. My experience has been this: ChickfilA is an unapologetically Christian organization. I’ve posted about it before on this blog, actually. They operate professionally on Christian values, they hire solely Christian believers, and they use their philanthropy branch (Winshape Foundation) to support Christian causes. Despite their size, CFA is a private, family-owned company, and as such they can do what they want. And they do – they close the stores on Sunday, they share prayer requests at meetings, and they have Bible verses all over the corporate office. And – ChickfilA has arguably the very best food and customer service in the fast food business. The people who work there are the sweetest and most genuine that I have ever met… the corporate culture is so healthy and wholesome. There is not an ounce of hate in the building. Well, except maybe from the cows. =)

So, it hurts me to see the media and many of my facebook friends railing about how hateful the organization is. Standing for Christian values (which includes marriage for life and the traditional heterosexual family unit) does NOT necessarily mean harboring hate for the alternative. And, it’s funny that the very people who often criticize the Christian community for being intolerant, narrow, and hateful are the ones hatefully labeling us as such, often unfairly. I wish I could ask some of them, "Do you feel that you’re being tolerant of my values right now?" Of course, the answer would be no. So then, why such self-righteousness about your supposed tolerance and our supposed hate?

Sigh. I don’t know the solution here. What I do know is that I’ll continue my thrice-weekly habit of ordering a regular chicken sandwich, extra-crispy waffle fries, and/or a chocolate chunk cookie. One, because the food is outrageously delicious, and two because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being unapologetic about what you think is right. If people don’t agree… well, they can continue to unapologetically stand up for what they think is right, and enjoy a mediocre meal and service at KFC. But why not leave their hate at the door, especially if that thing they stand for is tolerance?